Nickelodeon touts ties to Japan

Cable web unveils projects for original content

A day after Viacom prexy-CEO Tom Freston surfaced in India to talk up film links with Bollywood, another Viacom unit, Nickelodeon, touted its ties to Japan.

The kids channel, which is widely distributed via cable and satellite abroad, unveiled on Thursday its first-ever Japanese projects for original content.

Included are a development and acquisitions deal with Domo Production, an affiliate of Japan’s state broadcaster NHK, as well as a development deal with Polygon Pictures, a leading 3-D animation house.

Nick and Domo will co-develop and produce a 26-episode series of two -minute shorts based on NHK’s popular Domo-kun character. Deal also includes an advance acquisition of the series by Nicktoons in the U.S., marking the first time a Japanese-produced series will air on a Nickelodeon outlet Stateside.

Also unveiled Thursday, Nickelodeon and Polygon have agreed to co-develop an animated series based on a popular Japanese graphic novel called “Akihabara@Deep.” The announcements were made at a press conference during the Tokyo Anime Fair in Japan by Steve Grieder, senior VP of Nickelodeon Intl.; Tetsuo Kamemura, a senior corporate officer at NHK Enterprises; and Polygon prexy-CEO Shuzo Shiota.

“We have a long-term commitment to invest in new creative content from Japan like ‘Domo-kun’ and ‘Akihabara,’ two stunningly original projects, and we look forward to helping expand the influence Japan has in the kids’ entertainment arena even further around the world,” Grieder said.

Domo-kun has been an icon for Japanese kids, tweens and families for nearly a decade since his first appearance as NHK’s mascot. “Akihabara@Deep” is an edgy cyber-detective dramedy.

Along with being in competition with many other kids outlets around the world, Nickelodeon also informally vies with its sister channel, MTV, in establishing links with production partners around the world. Each in its own niche is getting increasingly involved in the Far East.